Nicholls Jazz Ensemble to Perform Swing Classics

The Nicholls Jazz Band performs at the grand opening of the Mary and Al Danos Theater in 2016. (Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University)

THIBODAUX, La. — The Nicholls Jazz Ensemble invites you to travel back in time later this month, as they perform the standards of the classic big band era.

Students will present works by composers such as Duke Ellington, Thad Jones and Mark Taylor in the free concert set for 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 30 in the Mary and Al Danos Theater.

“This is your chance to come out and hear some classic swing standards performed beautifully by our students,” said Taylor Assad, Jazz Ensemble director and adjunct instructor of music.

The concert will also have a special guest in Dr. Bill Grimes, who will be playing acoustic bass. He is an in-demand jazz bassist and arranger, recently retired from LSU and a graduate of the esteemed Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.

Dr. Grimes has more than 100 scores to his credit as an arranger. His conducting experience includes the Huntsville, Alabama, Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and Baton Rouge Symphony. He arranged and conducted an album of Gershwin classics, S’Wonderful, which featured trombonist Harry Watters and the Czech Philharmonic, and his arrangements have been featured by The Beach Boys and jazz artist Byron Stripling.

The concert will also feature Nicholls lead tenor player, Cesar Zavala, a sophomore health sciences major from Morgan City, on Alan Baylock’s arrangement of Goodbye Pork Pie Hat. Kelsie Felarise, a senior music major from Lockport, will be featured on clarinet, along with Christian Chaisson, a sophomore music major from Houma, on trumpet on Ellington’s Harlem Airshaft. Other student solos include trumpet players Tyler Kearney, a junior music major from Plaquemine, and Nidal Kreidi-Diaz, a freshman music major from Thibodaux; Valeria Nolazco, a senior music major from Morgan City on alto saxophone; George Llopis, a senior music major from Slidell, on piano; Jules Fanguy, a junior nursing major from Larose, on drumset; and Drayk Blair, a sophomore music major from Gonzales, on drumset and french horn.

The Nicholls Jazz Ensemble, which is made up of both music majors and non-music majors, gives each student their own unique part with different notes. The program encourages independence in reading music and enables students to improve in their sightreading. Students learn how to play various jazz styles, about important figures in jazz history and also how to improvise.


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